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Gabriel Attal: Five things to know about France's new prime minister

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Gabriel Attal: Five things to know about France's new prime minister
Gabriel Attal addresses youth in the presence of local elected officials during a meeting in Saint-Aunes, southern France on November 17, 2023. (Photo by Sylvain THOMAS / AFP)

Gabriel Attal has been named France's new prime minister. Here are five things you need to know about him (apart from the fact that he is young).


Often called the jeune loup de la Macronie (the young wolf of Macronism), Attal made global headlines for becoming France's youngest ever prime minister at the age of just 34. 

Hailing from a well-off Parisian family, Attal's mother, Marie de Couriss is a film producer, and so was his father, Yves Attal, who was also a lawyer.

Gabriel attended the elite 'école Alsacienne' (the Alsatian School), and later studied at Sciences Po.

He's far from a newcomer to the political scene, however. 

In 2018, he spent nine months as the spokesperson for the president's former party, La République en Marche.

By October 2018, he was brought into former PM Édouard Philippe's government at the age of 29 as a junior minister in the Education Ministry, making him the youngest minister in the history of France's Fifth Republic. 

Attal was also the French government spokesperson from 2020 to 2022, and then served as junior minister for public accounts between 2022 and 2023.

In July 2023 Attal was given his first real heavyweight role when he was named France's education minister. 

At 34 years old, he now becomes France's youngest prime minister - here are a few things to know about him; 

He is gay

Gabriel Attal also makes history as France's first out gay prime minister and has previously spoken out about his sexuality and the importance of role models for young LGBTQ people.


Until 2022, Attal was in a civil partnership with Stéphane Séjourné, the head of Macron's party Renaissance who was recently named Foreign Minister.


He is popular with the public

According to recent polling, Attal was a top choice among the French public to replace Elisabeth Borne as PM, with 36 percent of respondents agreeing he would “make a good prime minister”. In comparison, French President Emmanuel Macron’s approval rating stood at 27 percent as of January 2024.

Attal also scored well on the annual 'Beer Test', when members of the French public are asked which politician they would most like to have a beer with. 

As Macron cannot run again in 2027, some speculate that Attal could be a strong candidate to replace the current president.

He's a staunch ally of Macron

Originally a member of the Socialist Party - from 2006 to 2016 - Attal joined President Macron's party in 2016 shortly after it was founded.

Attal campaigned for the president in 2017, and has over the years established himself as a political frontrunner within Macron's movement Renaissance.


French media have even referred to him as a macroniste modèle (model Macronist). 

The young politician reportedly has close ties to former prime ministers Jean Castex and Edouard Philippe. When it comes to his relationship with the president, Le Point reported that he is close to both Emmanuel and Brigitte Macron, occasionally having lunch with the first lady.

Macron reportedly also has a nickname for Attal, calling him 'Attalian', a reference to his previous tenure as an MP in the Hauts-de-Seine département which is home to a large Armenian community.

He stirred controversy when he banned abayas in French state schools 

As education minister, Attal was responsible for banning the wearing of abayas - a loose fitting dress worn by some Muslim women - in French state schools on the grounds of secularism.


"Secularism means the freedom to emancipate oneself through school," Attal said at the time, describing the abaya as "a religious gesture, aimed at testing the resistance of the republic toward the secular sanctuary that school must constitute.

"You enter a classroom, you must not be able to identify the religion of the students by looking at them," he said.

Attal has also taken on other issues such as school uniforms and bullying in French schools. In autumn 2023, he announced a wide-reaching anti-bullying campaign, including self-assessment questionnaires and 'anti-bullying brigades' within each académie (regional school authority). "

READ MORE: How France will crackdown on the scourge of school bullying

He may represent a change of direction

French prime ministers typically have a short shelf life, in contrast to presidents who are elected for fixed five-year terms (previously seven). 

It's a tried-and-tested move for a president to sack his prime minister either when something has gone disastrously wrong, or simply when they're trying to create a 'fresh start' - in fact the old joke goes that the main job of a prime minister is to get sacked (although technically they always 'resign'). 

Macron has been, by comparison to some of his predecessors, relatively restrained with his prime ministers - Attal is his fourth in six years.

He may, however, represent a change of direction for Macron who has previously picked technocrats and charged them with getting often contentious legislation through parliament.

Attal, by contrast, is a career politician whose great skills lie in communication - he may therefore signal an era with less controversial legislation and more bridge-building with the French people ahead of the 2027 presidential elections.

OPINION Macron's gamble is an opportunity and a curse for Attal


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Joseph Millikan 2024/01/09 17:20
He certainly sounds like the right man for the job.

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